The best part of the holidays for me is when Christmas is over. I don’t hate Christmas at all. I do resent what a big deal everyone makes out of it. Both the religious people who are all up in everyone’s face with Jesus being the real focus of Christmas and trying to get everyone to pray and hail the lord and also the secular people who are in a frenzy of joy and cookies and parties and a thousand different family traditions they must perform even if doing everything really stresses them out. It’s the whole gluttonous atmosphere that I dislike. Here at our house it’s very mellow, quiet, and we enjoy ourselves but I haven’t made a cookie since the beginning of the month, we went to no parties, we have no set-in-stone traditions, and so in the cocoon of my own house there’s been very little gluttony of body, mind, or soul.
Okay, there were definitely some chocolates and candy the kid went to town on on Christmas day.
All the insistence on CRAZY AMOUNTS OF FUCKING JOY AND GOOD WILL AND SHOWS WITH SICKLY SENTIMENTAL MORALISTIC UNDERPINNINGS (kind of like giving medicine with a glass of thick simple syrup) AND ALL THE INSANE BAKING OF SO MANY SUGARY BUTTERY THINGS AND HOARDING OF HAPPINESS AS THOUGH THIS IS THE ONLY TIME OF YEAR ONE SHOULD BE PUMPED UP WITH LOVE – it is over.
The quiet week is here. My favorite week of the year. It is a week of introspection. A week of summing up and counting down. A week to wrap up old feelings and blow them off the roof like powdery snow. A week to think up possibilities. A week to clean and prepare for a fresh chapter. It is also the very beginning of my favorite season. The solstice passed fairly unnoticed by the crowds while they were freaking out over Christmas. Though I must say it gives me great pleasure that so many of my friends (some of whom are huge fans of Christmas) did pay it homage.
Winter is here.
Every year I hear people saying how they don’t make resolutions because they will only be disappointed at the end of the year by all the ones they’ve broken and what they haven’t accomplished. People come up with all kinds of work-arounds by making “anti-resolution” resolutions. I love making resolutions. I never hold myself accountable at the end of the year for what I didn’t accomplish. For what I didn’t become. What a miserable way to treat oneself! Lord, I’m pretty good at ripping out my own veins in anger and disappointment in self, but I know when I see an opportunity for kindness and an exercise in hope.
Making resolutions accomplishes two things. It is an exercise in hope. What you want from yourself, from your life, from the people in your life and how you relate to them, what things you want the power to change and create. And it is also the first step in realizing hopes into reality: mental visualization. I believe that if you can’t imagine yourself being a successful person, you won’t be. I believe that if you can’t imagine yourself waking up every morning to exercise then you won’t. The fist step in accomplishing anything is to see it happen in your own mind. Actions follow the mind’s directives.
The problem is that then you have to follow the mind’s directives with action. Much harder. What resolutions do for us is give us focus and they make us examine what we really want and then we imagine it. Then we plan how to achieve it. And then we work hard towards what we have hoped for, dreamed of, and imagined. Maybe life takes us in surprising directions we couldn’t have foreseen and our resolutions become symbols of our continuing ability to hope for good things even when life is complete shit.
For years now I’ve had the resolution to lose lots of weight. For years now I haven’t accomplished that. Well, I did lose some weight. But not even close to what I imagined I could lose. But I keep coming back with that same resolution because I know I can do it. What’s held me back hasn’t been completely in my control (not knowing it was medication related in the last few years) but I still come to the new year with my hope in tact. I also must acknowledge that I did, in fact, lose 20 pounds last year. Some came back. But the point is – I did make progress.
Resolutions aren’t about achievements. They’re about hope. About visualizing your hopes. They’re about building plans to achieve those hopes. They aren’t about condemning yourself to failure. If you look back and count all the things you didn’t accomplish every year then you’re just punishing yourself because you want to. Because some part of you is masochistic and wants to see you suffer at every chance. How about letting go of that? How about looking into why you do that to yourself?
I’ve written all this because maybe some of you haven’t considered that there’s a different way to look at resolutions than you’re used to. But the truth is – I don’t really care if you make them or not. It will not ruin my own quiet enjoyment of this week of reflection and hope and summing up and laying out of time and action and dreams and reality. This is my season and I know that the people who love winter as I do are very few (I’m thinking of all of you right now as I write this) and that for many this is the toughest season of the year.
For those of you who struggle to get through winter I’m wishing for you: sun-lamps and warm colored walls in your home and plenty of distractions to get you through to spring. Loved ones to share warm evenings with in front of a fire or under a quilt with cheerful things like hot chocolate and hot apple cider or wine. I’m wishing for you some sunshiny days mixed in with the rain and the snow and the storms. Read books about sunny places and stories that take place in your favorite season. Watch movies that are bright and happy and warm. Eat citrus – it’s like juicy sunshine in a fruit. Find ways to enjoy what you can. And always remember that winter only lasts 3 months.
For those few of us who have entered our favorite season of the year – let’s have the best winter ever! I’m going snow dances in my head (dudes, I can’t actually dance so that’s the best I can do) and the windy storm that battered my house as I couldn’t get to sleep was wonderful. I’ve got lots of winter squash to eat and I’m actually getting excited to plan my spring garden with my mom.